NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017
Overview of cancer treatments
New tests and treatments aren’t offered to the public
as soon as they’re made. They need to be studied
first. New uses of tests and treatments also need to
A clinical trial is a type of research that studies a
test or treatment. Clinical trials study how safe and
helpful tests and treatments are. When found to
be safe and helpful, they may become tomorrow’s
standard of care. Because of clinical trials, the tests
and treatments in this book are now widely used to
Tests and treatments go through a series of clinical
trials to make sure they’re safe and work. Without
clinical trials, there’s no way to know if a test or
treatment is safe or helpful. Clinical trials are done in
a series of steps, called phases. The four phases of
clinical trials are described next using the example of
a new drug treatment:
trials aim to find the best dose and way
to give a new drug with the fewest side effects.
If a drug is found to be safe, it will be studied in
a phase II trial.
trials assess if a drug works for a
specific type of cancer. They are done in larger
groups of patients with the same type of cancer.
trials compare a new drug to the
standard treatment. These are randomized,
meaning patients are put in a treatment group
trials test new drugs approved by the
learn about short-term side effects, long-term
side effects, and safety. They involve many
patients with different types of cancer.
Joining a clinical trial has benefits. First, you’ll have
access to the most current cancer care. Second, you
will receive the best management of care. Third, the
results of your treatment will be carefully tracked.
Fourth, you may help other patients with cancer.
Clinical trials have risks, too. Like any test or
treatment, there may be side effects. Also, new
tests or treatments may not work better than current
treatments. Another downside may be that paperwork
or more trips to the hospital may be needed.
To join a clinical trial, you must meet the conditions
of the study. Patients in a clinical trial often have a
similar cancer type and general health. This helps
ensure that any response is because of the treatment
and not because of differences between patients.
You also must review and sign a paper called an
informed consent form to join a clinical trial. This form
describes the study in detail, including the risks and
Ask your treatment team if there is an open clinical
trial that you can join. There may be clinical trials
where you’re getting treatment or at other treatment